Epic Won’t Ban Fortnite Players For Their Political Views Or Statements

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Fortnite developer Epic Games has reaffirmed its stance on free speech by confirming it would never penalize its players for expressing their political views or standing up for human rights.

A dramatic statement? Yes, but one almost certainly not without merit in light of recent events. For those in need of context, a wave of controversy has encircled the entertainment industry recently over China’s influence on popular media including the NBA and, more relevantly, video games.

Hearthstone and Overwatch developer Blizzard, in particular, added fuel to the already-blazing wildfire of controversy over the weekend when it opted to ban competitive Hearthstone player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung not only from participating in future tournaments but from receiving any prize money he otherwise would have been owed. The reason? As part of a live stream broadcast of the collectable card game’s Grandmasters competition, Hong Kong resident Blitzchung publically displayed support for the region’s current protests, a show of solidarity that, according to Blizzard, was in breach of its rules.

In the wake of Blitzchung’s ban, social media sites dedicated to Blizzard’s games have exploded with outrage over the perception that, due to the publisher’s stake in the Chinese video games market, it has decided to prioritize profits over free speech. An inescapable PR nightmare if ever I’ve seen one.

And so, clearly eager to reassure fans that it would never repeat Blizzard’s mistake, an Epic spokesperson told The Verge that “Epic supports everyone’s right to express their views on politics and human rights. We wouldn’t ban or punish a Fortnite player or content creator for speaking on these topics.” The statement makes no specific reference to recent events, of course, but it doesn’t need to.

With one of the industry’s biggest players publicly showing support for its customers’ right to comment on current political events at official Fortnite events, I wouldn’t be surprised if it served as the catalyst that prompts other major publishers to stand behind Epic Games’ statement, especially in the wake of Blizzard’s fall from grace. Watch this space for more.

Source: The Verge

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